How I Recover After Long Runs

by - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One of the things I've been paying extra attention to this marathon training cycle is my recovery after hard workouts.

Normally when I train for a race, I do my quality workouts, squeeze in some stretching and call it a day. In terms of recovery, that's not the greatest plan, and I would tend to wake up the next day with lots of muscle soreness, which of course meant my next run was crappy.

This time around I'm actually focusing on recovering well after long runs, so that I can push it harder in my quality workouts.

For me, recovery starts pretty much when I walk in the door. After downing a big glass of water, I either mix up a protein shake or have a glass of chocolate milk.

Lately I've been going the protein shake route because dairy hasn't been sitting well with my stomach. EAS sent me this vanilla protein powder ages ago, and it's only recently that I've come to appreciate it.

Eas protein

While I'd prefer the chocolate flavor, the vanilla isn't actually so bad, and I have to say, the protein powder has been doing an amazing job of curbing my insatiable post-long run hunger.

After I've gotten some easily digestible protein into my system, I spend a good 15-20 minutes stretching. My poor little legs are usually so shot that even the gentlest stretches feel good. My favorite lately has been pigeon to help open my hips.


Then it's time for my ice bath. Ice baths are not fun, but I'm fairly certain they are the reason I have had practically no post-long run muscle soreness in the following days. Normally, I end up hobbling around the house the day after long runs because my legs are so mad at me, but ice baths have really helped with that.

Ice bath

I fill the tub with the coldest water possible, get in and then dump in a big bag of ice. And then I sit there for a solid 15 minutes. My chattering teeth don't love it, but my legs do.

Once the ice bath is done and I'm all showered and smelling good again, I slide on my compression sleeves and dig into some solid food, usually a turkey sandwich or an egg and cheese sandwich.

Compression sleeves

I won't lie, this recovery process takes a long time. I would say from the minute I walk in the door after my run, until the time I'm cleaned up and ready to move on with my day, it's about an hour or two later.

I don't love that recovery takes so much time, but I have to say after a few weeks of zero post-long run soreness, I've decided it's time well spent and definitely worth keeping as part of my routine.

How do you recover after long runs?

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  1. You forgot foam rolling!

    I know about all these recovery techniques but I tend to be a major slacker (like 99% of all athletes). Although I try to stretch and get protein into my system after hard efforts but sometimes I forget or do not have time.
    However, I never ever do ice baths. It is such a waste of drinking water for too selfish reason. When I think that I will use cca 20 gallons of drinking water just to help me to recover from a fun unimportant activity I just cannot make myself do it:)

  2. My recovery is very similar to yours! I actually have grown to look forward to the ice bath (so weird) and I sip hot coffee while I am in it, lol!

  3. I just started getting into the habit of drinking a protein shake after my long runs. My recovery process is not just on long run days anymore. I sprained my tendons last spring so I am forcing myself to sit and watch netflix while using my tens machine, foam roll, and stretch. I'm actually liking that I'm taking the time to "relax" and recover.

    I'm not doing ice baths but it's mainly because I'm a wimp when it comes to anything cold.

  4. Hello Jess,
    Just a quick message to ask if you would be interested in a 'mutual' following on twitter. I am currently following you now and am awaiting for your follow-back. (#FYI I do RT's 'anytime' for all #Triathletes #Cyclists #UltraRunners & #Marathoners who follow me on Twitter and have something important they want mentioned...)

    All the very best for the rest of 2012 and beyond Jess. Look forward to hearing from you soon...


  5. This is great! I usually do a combination of these things, but I'm terrible about actually getting into a routine and I've had a lot of soreness this training cycle (I'm training for NYCM). Hopefully this will motivate me to get into more of a routine :)

  6. I do similar things, and I also hate the way recovery can take so much time out of my morning *after* I've already spent a few hours running...but it's so worth it. I also highly recommend the yoga pose "legs up the wall", which is just how it sounds - lay down on the floor and put your feet up at a 90 angle against a wall, so your body is in an L shape. This helps drain all the toxic buildup and fluid in your legs and feet and I've found it really reduces sore legs the next day. I try to do it 2-3 times throughout the day, for 5-10 minutes at a time.

  7. This is why I just don't have time for marathon training at this point in my life. It's not just the run time, it's the recover time that is just so, well, time consuming! And it's time I don't really have.

  8. Happy to hear you like EAS Lean 15, Jess! Be sure to check us out on Facebook at and don't forget to pick up a $3 off coupon for our new Recovery Protein here: ~Morgen @EAS